May 2, 2013, 11:00 am
Text expansion generally refers to the way a few typed letters can expand into entire words, sentences, or even paragraphs. It’s a simple idea but an incredible time-saver.
We’ve talked about text expansion tools before on ProfHacker, but we’ve tended to focus on the Mac. What about text expansion for Windows? I’d like to recommend AutoHotkey, a powerful, open-source and free scripting tool that handles text expansion but also so much more. I’ve been using AutoHotkey for years, and it’s become such an integral part of my workflow that I often forget I’m even using it.
AutoHotkey runs in the Windows system tray whenever you load a *.ahk file. (Pro Tip: I placed a shortcut to my hotkeys.ahk file into my Startup folder, so my hotkeys load whenever I boot my computer). The .ahk file is simply a plain text file that contains your hotkey and macro scripts. You can edit the …
April 26, 2013, 11:00 am
We tend to think of our digital distractions as exactly that—distractions from the otherwise productive business of our daily lives. The Zombies, Run! game, however, could just as easily fit alongside the health and wellness posts on ProfHacker. This smartphone app (available for Android and iOS devices) is essentially a running app wrapped up in zombie narrative. Each run enacts a single “mission” in post-apocalyptic world threatened by zombie hordes. You play Runner 5—a courier with a mysterious past—and while you are running in the physical world, various characters from your struggling military base talk to you through your headphones, slowly revealing a background story. The narrative elements are broken up with music from your device’s playlist. And every once in a while you are “chased” by moaning zombies, which you outrun by picking up your pace a few notches.
April 15, 2013, 11:00 am
As has been widely reported, the reference manager Mendeley was recently purchased for roughly $69 million by Elsevier, the Dutch publishing behemoth. Though we often suggest Zotero as a way to organize and cite research material, we have favorably recommended Mendeley as well. I even used Mendeley’s iPad app until the Zotero-based Zotpad was released.
But now that Elsevier—whose business practices have raised concern from open access advocates—owns Mendeley, there has been a backlash against the free software program. Most notably, the prominent Internet researcher danah boyd announced she was quitting Mendeley.
For the moment let’s set aside the financial and scholarly implications of Mendeley’s new ownership and focus on purely practical matters. Are you switching from Mendeley? If so, we’re less interested in hearing why and more focused on how.
January 31, 2013, 11:00 am
[Editors' note: this is a draft that Mark Sample uploaded to Profhacker last week. We have been unable to contact Mark for the final revisions, so we are posting it as-is. Our apologies for any errors.]
In late 2012 Twitter began rolling out a long-requested feature: a complete archive of a your public (non-DM) Twitter activity, from your very first tweet up to the moment you request the archive (from your Twitter Settings page). Shortly after you submit your request, you’ll be emailed a unique link to a zipped folder. Download that folder, unzip it, and open up the index.html file in your browser, and there’s your complete archive, organized by month and year, and totally searchable.
Despite my initial skepticism that the official Twitter archive might end up being a plain text file, stripped of any kind of metadata, I must admit that the archive is quite robust. All the…
January 22, 2013, 10:30 am
Have you ever used Zotero to grab a citation from a library or journal database, only to have to retype the title of the article because it’s not capitalized correctly? Or maybe the article has a superfluous space before a colon that you have to manually edit out?
I don’t know about you, but dealing with these nagging little details takes some of the magic out of the otherwise automagical powers of Zotero. A while ago I tweeted my frustration with this problem and asked if there was some way Zotero could automatically reformat lowercase titles into proper title capitalization.
And guess what?
Sheila Brennan, the Associate Director of Public Projects at the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (developers of Zotero), wrote back with this quick and useful tip: Right-click in the title field in Zotero and you’ll have an option to transform the text to the title case. This …
December 13, 2012, 11:00 am
Poll Everywhere is an online service that allows you to poll an audience through text-messaging. The polling mechanism is quite simple (and therefore easy for audiences to use): every answer in your poll has a unique number, and audience members text that number to Poll Everywhere’s 6-digit short code. The real magic occurs next, as you and your audience watch the results roll in, live.
I’ve been saying “audience,” but what I really have in mind is “students.” You ask your students a question, they respond, and the results appear instantly and anonymously. The survey graphs dynamically resize themselves according to the latest results, which is quite fun to watch as a group. Pedagogically-speaking, Poll Everywhere is similar to clickers in the classroom, but it uses technology most students already have—their cell phones. From the professor’s perspective all it…
November 29, 2012, 11:00 am
The research organizer and reference manager Zotero is one of ProfHacker’s favorite tools. I’ve shown how ZotPad allows you to access your saved sources and PDFs on your iPad, but there’s one key functionality that ZotPad doesn’t (yet) provide: saving citations to Zotero from your iPad.
Enter the Zotero Bookmarklet.
The Zotero Bookmarklet can be added to almost any modern browser—including Safari on the iPad or iPhone—and it allows you to save a source to your Zotero library, as long as the Zotero web service recognizes that source. In other words, the Zotero Bookmarklet works well with common research databases, electronic journals, and new sources, while it’s not likely to recognize regular blogs and random websites.
Installation of bookmarklets on iOS browsers is tricky, but this is the essential process (adapted from the official Zotero documentation):
November 2, 2012, 11:01 am
As I’ve written about before on ProfHacker, I am striving to go paperless at conferences and in the classroom. Aside from saving paper, I simply prefer carrying less with me wherever I go. An iPad or other tablet makes this increasingly possible, but there’s one use for the iPad at conferences and in the classroom that I’ve consistently been disappointed by: running presentations from the iPad.
It’s a breeze to hook up the iPad to a projector with a VGA or HDMI connector, and I love the way the iPad 2 and newer mirrors itself on an external screen. But I always run into the same problems trying to show a PowerPoint deck from the iPad (I work primarily on a Windows PC, so Keynote isn’t an appealing option, especially with a $9.99 price tag).
The first problem is inconsistent formatting of imported slideshows when I use Office suite-type apps like Office2 HD. I can work around…